Saturday, December 15, 2012

What's Cookin?

Now that Hubs is home, I've been cooking ALOT more. He literally eats enough for 2 people! But I've been having fun with trying out new, healthy recipes. Hubs is generally not a fan of healthier food, he joked that he was going to be eating only rabbit food after deployment. Boy has he been pleasantly surprised! He keeps asking me where I find these recipes, like he doesn't already know the answer...Pinterest!

Here are a few of our new favorites:

Broccoli Cheese and Potato Soup - Perfect for a cold day! It was so quick to prepare, honestly took me less than 30 minutes from 'fridge to stove. 

Million Dollar Casserole - Now I am sure you've heard of Million Dollar Spaghetti, well this is the casserole version (obviously...). I lightened it up a bit, using plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream, homemade spaghetti sauce, reduced fat cheese, and Dreamfields pasta. It was a nice alternative to spaghetti!

Slow Cooker Fudge - I have always wanted to make my own fudge, but I was intimidated. This recipe was so easy and it was in the slow cooker! My husband likes this recipe so much, I have been making it almost daily. I have also experimented with different variations: I've used peanut butter chips & milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips & mint chips, and white chocolate chips & lemon extract (instead of vanilla like the recipe calls for). If you follow the directions, the fudge turns out great. Sometimes it ends up too runny after cooking for 2 hours, so I just had more chips to thicken it up. Just make sure you allow it to cook the full 2 hours and cool at least 4 hours. When you pop it in the 'fridge, don't cover it either.

Turkey Meatloaf and Skinny Garlic Mashed Potatoes - I tried out my meatloaf recipe but with ground turkey and paired it with these mashed potatoes. Easiest. Potatoes. EVER! This was my first time making real mashed potatoes aka not made from flakes. So easy and they turned out really yummy!

Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken - My husband loved this so much, he literally ate all of it (minus the 2 servings the kiddo and I ate!). I shredded up the chicken to make it easier for my daughter to eat. It was so delicious, light, and full of flavor. When I told my husband it was healthy (190 Calories per serving!), he said, "Good, that means I can eat it all and not feel like a fat a**!". Definitely cook with fresh herbs instead of the dried ones, rosemary tastes sooo much better fresh!

Oven Roasted Sausages, Potatoes, & Peppers - I made this with deer sausage and used Tony Cachere's seasoning, it was a huge hit! I especially loved the banana peppers. This dish would be really good served in a sub sandwich too. I ended up using 2 baking pans instead of crowding it all onto one. 

Caramel for Popcorn - Okay so this is NOT healthy at all but it is oh so yummy! Hubs was trying to find caramel popcorn at the store so I was inspired to make some myself. I made one batch which has lasted us 4 bags of popcorn so far and we haven't used half yet! It is the perfect amount of sweetness to pair with the salty/buttery of the popcorn. 

I hope you all enjoy them as much as my family does! 


Monday, December 10, 2012

You Are Cordially Invited...

I am finally ready to share photos from our Royal Tea Birthday Party! I was so happy with how the entire party turned out, I was excited to see how all of my DIY projects worked into the event. Little Miss absolutely loved it, I will sure have a hard time matching it next year!

The table, complete with tiaras for the girls and foam swords for the boys

One of my DIY Centerpieces with Princess Crown Lollipops

DIY Goodie Bags, Pink for girls and Blue for boys
Cake & Cupcakes on my DIY Cupcake Stand

Putting on her Princess Dress

What's a Princess dress without the Jewels?

Time for Tea!

Yummy Food!
Meeting Cinderella

Storytime with Cinderella

Happy Toddler = Happy Family!

I want to thank Rusella Photography for capturing this for us. Not having to worry about taking pictures and hosting a party was a huge relief.

TeaParTea is such a great venue, they went above and beyond to help out during the party. 

The cake and cupcakes were from Shockley's Sweet Shoppe. They are just the sweetest people and were very budget friendly. Plus, their stuff tastes amazing!
Believe it or not, this party did NOT break the bank. Last year we went to a local bounce house for her birthday. We spent the same amount of money as we did this year but didn't have nearly as much fun and I felt like it wasn't a very unique experience.

I don't have the space in our townhouse to throw a party here. Plus parking is terribad. So having a party at home is not an option. 

Here are my tips for making the most of your party $$ and keeping your party unique:

- Have your party during the week.
      By doing this, I paid almost HALF of what it would cost
      to have the party on a weekend. 

- Go with cupcakes instead of cake.
      An intricately decorated cake can be costly! If you want
      bling on your cupcakes, buy it separately. I picked up
      the edible pearls on sale for less than a dollar. I simply
      added it to the cupcakes myself!
      If you are good at baking, make it yourself!  
- Be crafty!
      By making my own centerpieces, cupcake stand, and 
      goody bags I was able to save alot but make the party 
      still look great! Check out all the tutorials HERE.  I was
      able to get multiple uses out of a few things, like the candy
      used in the decorations was also given out for the goody
      bags at the end of the party.  

And if you have the extra money, hire a photographer to take pictures for the party. Of course you could always just have a designated friend take pictures too! Last year, I had about 10 photos of the party and I was in NONE of them. My daughter is going to look back and wonder where I was! I didn't want to worry about taking pictures and being a good hostess, so spending the money was very much worth it to me. Plus, these pictures are far better than what my camera is capable of taking. It wasn't very expensive either!

The party was perfect for our little princess!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hiding Out

Hubs had been home for nearly a month now, the decom ceremony has passed, so this means back to a regular working schedule; well at least until holiday leave

I have slowly started getting a new routine together. This also means getting Little Miss into a new routine too. For those of you that have never had the pleasure of forcing a 3 year old to do something...let me tell you, it isn't easy. My crazy toddler wants to stay up until midnight and sleep until 10am. But when Hubs goes to bed by 8pm (I know, I know he's an old man shhh don't tell him I said that!) and is up by 4am, I either go without much sleep or I get very little alone time with him. And since we are trying to add on to our little family, alone time is a valuable thing right now.

We have been keeping to ourselves for the last month. It has been nice to just hang out at home when Hubs is around and on duty days I do the cleaning, laundry, and errands. Hubs has seen almost all of the Disney princess movies now. Little Miss helps her Daddy fight animals on his video game. I know it doesn't sound fabulous and exotic, but its just heaven to me. We even found time to update our family photos, its been nearly 2 years since we've taken any!

The pictures turned out great!!

However with all of this focusing on family time, I feel have neglected my friends. As much as I love you guys, it has been nice to just shut the world out and enjoy my little family. I promise this week I will start being more attentive, returning texts and phone calls...updating my blog...

This upcoming week will be a challenge for us, working my friends, gym time, and Little Miss's play dates back into our schedule along with working days for Hubs. This is always the hardest part of reintegration for me. Getting my day started early enough so I can complete all of my to-do's before Hubs gets home from work....Wish me luck!